Happy 279th Birthday, Molly Stark!
She has been dead over 200 years, but her memory lives on in a battle cry issued by her famous husband, General John Stark, a Hero of the Revolutionary War. During the Battle at Bennington VT, August 16, 1777, General Stark is said to have told his troops, "The enemy are ours or this night Molly Stark sleeps a widow."
While Molly Stark never set foot in Vermont, there is a trail named after her. It is said that the General used “Molly Stark Trail” as code for the trail the local militias would take to head off the Hessians, mercenaries who were bringing supplies to fortify the British at Saratoga.
Stark led a group of 2200 farmer-soldiers, armed with their own weapons. Stark’s bloody ambush occurred at Bennington, with the enemy losing 900 men, killed or captured. The American casualties were only about 70. This battle is said to have been a critical turning point in the Revolutionary War, reviving America’s spirit and determination to achieve victory. General Stark is thought to have returned home to Molly along what is now Route 9, or the “Molly Stark Trail”.
John and Molly Stark had 11 children; one infant died. Their farm encompassed over 600 acres in north Manchester, and their homestead was originally located on a plot adjacent to what is now the Youth Development Center on River Road. Remains of that site can be seen today.
Molly nursed her husband's troops, suffering from a smallpox epidemic during the Battle of Bennington, and she turned her home into a hospital. During their convalescence, the soldiers helped around the farm, building many of the stone walls that still exist on the property.
Molly died in 1814, at age 78. Her husband lived on for another 8 years, and died in 1822, at 94. Both lie buried in the Stark Family gravesite, located in Stark Park, Manchester, NH.